A Lesson in International Politics
One of the common themes around here is that whenever Barack Obama makes a statement about this region of the world, specifically Armenia, all of the Azerbaijanis I meet tell me about it. And they tell me about how American people are great, and that we are a great democracy, but that America is going wrong when it comes to discussing Armenia, Turkey, genocide, and Azerbaijan. Thus, with last week’s speech by Barack, and international summits involving the US and countries from this area of the world (Azerbaijan was not in attendance), I’ve gotten a small barrage of feedback from people I meet here. There are three important things to know here. First, the news service here is relatively terrible. There isn’t much in the way of research, objectivity, or providing alternative viewpoints. There’s only one viewpoint and anything claiming Azerbaijan may be wrong will never be included. The second thing is that people here are not educated to question what they are given and are therefore generally dismissive and not curious about what people outside the situation may think. This makes robust discussion of issues fairly rare in these parts. The third part is that I really can’t say anything. If I agree, then people will think all Americans agree with a particular stance. That is obviously not the case. If I disagree, then I get shut out. People here generally don’t tolerate opposing views, and I would very easily alienate myself from the community by voicing disagreement on any number of issues, specifically regarding Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
This is all for an introduction to this article, describing the current state of US-Azerbaijan relations. Needless to say, things don’t look great for us right now. The ambassador issue is a big deal, and the presence of a very strong Armenian lobby in America doesn’t help things here, either. Even when foreign aid is given to Azerbaijan, they don’t notice. They notice the aid that went to Armenia. To illustrate how US is perceived as turning from Azerbaijan:
Washington’s summit miscalculation is the latest in a year-long series of blows to US-Azeri relations. This trend continues amid an apparent US strategic disengagement from the wider region (rationalized as a “strategic pause” to assuage pro-US governments there). In Azerbaijan’s case, Washington seems unable even to fill the long-vacant post of US ambassador in Baku. The vacancy deprives the United States of steady high-level access to Azerbaijan’s leaders (which had never been a problem previously), while making it more difficult for Washington to grasp the crisis in US-Azerbaijan relations and its region-wide implications.